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NUI Confers Honorary Degree on President Michael D. Higgins

25.01.2012

 

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NUI Honorary Conferring Ceremony on the President of Ireland, His Excellency, Michael D. Higgins Wednesday, 25 January 2012 – St. Patrick’s Hall, Dublin Castle.

At a ceremony in Dublin Castle, the Chancellor of the National University of Ireland, Dr Maurice Manning conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws (LLD) on the President of Ireland, His Excellency, Michael D. Higgins.
 
In his introductory citation, Dr James J. Browne, Vice-Chancellor of NUI and President of NUI Galway defined the conferring as ‘honouring an extraordinary man who personifies and combines so many decencies that, taken individually, we perceive to be ordinary’. In a phrase used by the late President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh to characterise the role of President, Dr Browne said that  ‘As the ninth President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is, somewhat paradoxically, the primus inter pares or first among equals’. Referring to the President’sPresident Michael D Higgins and Dr Maurice Manning Chancellor NUI election, Dr Browne said that his ‘radical egalitarianism animated his claim to be elected as Uachtarán na hÉireann in 2011. It posited a moral choice not between the state and the market but between two versions of the state. We were invited to reconceive the role of government in a re-imagined state and to engage without shame in an ethically informed public conversation about the choices that this would entail’.

‘It was an unapologetic claim that placed ethics before competence in what he prescribed as ‘a real Republic’. It challenged the Irish people to accept that adjustment by daring to re-imagine and revive almost-forgotten decencies. Over one million voters rose to that challenge’. Dr Browne summarised the President’s political career in the following terms:  ‘First elected to Dáil Éireann in 1981, he represented Galway-West as a T.D. until 2011. Michael D. Higgins has identified, amplified and President Michael D Higgins Group Shotchampioned the rights and interests of communities that he described as “comhluadar faoi bhrón”. He did so without fear, using everything at his disposal: politics, sociology, broadcasting, journalism and poetry. In 1992, he was the first recipient of the Seán MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau in Helsinki, in recognition of his work for peace and justice in many parts of the world’.

Dr Browne concluded in saying ‘the Presidency of Michael D. Higgins may well reverse the adage of campaigning in poetry but governing in prose. Already, he is asserting the true value of rhetoric, purposefully and forthrightly deployed, evincing the defining quality of this truly extraordinary man – integrity’.

Following the conferring, the President addressed the gathering. The large attendance in St Patrick’s Hall included representatives of the Government, the Council of State, the judiciary, the diplomatic corps, in addition to members of the four NUI constituent universities and other Irish universities. Notable amongst the attendants President Michael D Higgins, Dr Maurice Manning NUI Chancellor, Dr James Browne President NUI Galway were many former colleagues of the President from NUI Galway where he lectured in the Department of Sociology for over thirty years.  National cultural institutions and the media were also represented.

It is a longstanding tradition of the National University of Ireland to confer an honorary degree on the President following his or her inauguration. Dr Douglas Hyde received an honorary degree from the Royal University of Ireland in 1906. NUI has honoured all Presidents since 1952 with the exception of Dr Eamon de Valera, who was Chancellor of the University while in office.

 

Honorary degrees conferred on past Presidents of Ireland


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